The Coronavirus pandemic has redefined many aspects of massage therapy, including client communication. Excellent communication is not only a good idea for your massage business—it’s now a requirement for all massage therapist clinics under COVID-19 restrictions. As we explained in last month’s post, “How to Safely Practice Massage Therapy in Coronavirus Times,” the state of Oregon requires clinics to ask screener questions before massage therapy appointments.
At our student clinic of massage, Portland clients receive and reply to these screener questions via email. For optimized safety, we have eliminated all paper forms. Post-massage, clients provide feedback via email as well. Developing these procedures does take time, yet such required reinvention also represents an opportunity to invigorate client communication. Today we’re examining how massage therapists can effectively communicate with clients during Covid-19, including how to communicate new procedures.
Critical Massage Clinic Communication Components in the Coronavirus Era
Practice Honesty and Openness. As pandemic closures swept swiftly through the US, small businesses closed suddenly. As with all personal services, massage clinics were hard-hit. Clients and clinic owners alike were surprised and disappointed to see upcoming appointments cancelled. As pockets of the economy reopen, ongoing, clear communication is best. Transparency and consistency allow clients to trust that clinics will follow health guidelines during reopening. Avoid sugar-coating; don’t delay communicating bad news. As in personal relationships, it is best to be open and honest with your clientele, with an undertone of compassion.
Even if you aren’t ready to reopen yet, you can keep the lines of communication open with consistent email newsletters, blog posts, website updates, and social media updates. Also consider virtual community building techniques. For instance, the AMTA recently suggested creating “Ask Me Anything” videos, in which therapists answer the most common questions they have received from clients over the years. This can also be a great time to share information about the types of massage, the benefits of massage therapy, and any continuing education you may have taken recently. Until you can reopen, encourage clients to support you by purchasing gift cards. Chances are, your clients want to support you at this time, and they will happily book appointments as they are available, as long as you stay in touch.
Outline New COVID-19 Policies Upon Reopening your Massage Clinic
Once you have a clear plan for reopening, make sure your clients are prepared for the new way of doing things. Communicate changes via your typical venues, such as email. You may also consider reaching out personally to clients who you know will be interested, such as those who use massage to manage chronic pain. This is your time to explain what your clients can expect from you (the therapist will wear a mask throughout, the clinic provide a fresh mask for each visit, etc.), as well as what you expect from them (wear a mask when entering the clinic, wait in your car before your appointment, etc.). Also think through how you will send and receive Covid-19 screeners, and communicate how you will handle cancellations and rescheduling requests.
How is the signage around your clinic? Would new signs help reinforce new safety protocols? Clients will feel safe if they see new rules clearly posted. For instance, you may want to post signs requiring masks and social distancing. Floor markers can tell people where to stand when checking in. Directional signs can point the way when clients are moving between spaces, to prevent them from unintentionally barging in on rooms that are being cleaned between visits.
Times are changing fast, and you will need to update clients as things shift. Be prepared to communicate with clients more frequently to ensure smooth operations.
Benefits of Improved Massage Clinic Communication
Stepping up your communication game can result in stronger client relationships. This is a great time to be a thought leader in the massage community. Consider contributing to local publications on self-massage techniques. Can you offer pro-bono time for groups in special need right now? How can you inspire your clients to practice good self-care in these challenging times, while also offering a compassionate ear?
Maintaining strong client communication through transparency, consistency, and a positive, supportive outlook will not only allow your massage business to survive—it will better position you to thrive as the economy reopens.
We are guessing that of all the accredited massage schools in the United States—including those with top-notch certifications such as COMTA—zero offered Pandemic Client Communication 101 classes before the Coronavirus hit. Doing business safely as a potential disease vector is simply not something the average person will consider as they become a massage therapist. That’s why it’s crucial to preserve strong ties to your professional network, including high-quality continuing education. Why simply maintain your license—taking the minimum number of hours just to get them out of the way—when you could improve your practice at the same time? East West College is dedicated to keeping alumni abreast of the latest developments in our field. We offer a plethora of CE courses on timely topics, including client communication, throughout the year. To peruse our upcoming classes, visit our Portland continuing massage therapy education website.